Russian Military Expenditure: Understanding the Russian Budget
How much resources does Russia spend on defense? What share of defense-related spending in Russia is publicly reported through the budget process? How is defense spending allocated between different expenditure areas and how does it evolve? What conclusions can be drawn based on data in the public domain about the nature of defense-related spending that is classified?
As tensions between Russia and the West have intensified in recent years, a debate about defense spending has been reinvigorated in many countries, including Russia. Between 1998 and 2008, Russia’s defense spending increased tenfold, as measured in US dollars. In 2010 Russia launched an ambitious 10-year program to modernize its military equipment, and in 2017, a renewed program was launched for the period until 2025.
This study aims to provide a detailed analysis of what is included in Russia’s defense spending by looking at publicly available budget data reported by Russian financial authorities. We develop a method to accurately and consistently estimate the share of so-called secret budget expenditure in the budget. As a result this study complements other sources focused on cross-country comparisons of military expenditures by providing a finer level of detail. In short, the aim is to provide the fullest possible picture about Russian defense spending based on publicly reported data. In addition, we also aim to develop a method for reading and analyzing the Russian budget in general in a way that can be applied to other areas than military expenditure.